Former champ Kimi Raikkonen returns to Formula One
Kimi Raikkonen, the 2007 Formula One champion known as the "Iceman" for his cool, steely demeanor, said Tuesday he has signed a two-year deal to return to the series with the Lotus Renault GP team, starting next season.
Raikkonen, 32, won his championship with Ferrari, but the Finn left Formula One after the 2009 season to mainly drive in the World Rally Championship series.
"I can't deny the fact that my hunger for F1 has recently become overwhelming," Raikkonen said in a statement.
The Lotus Renault team had three drivers this season: Russian Vitaly Petrov initially was partnered with Nick Heidfeld before Brazilian Bruno Senna replaced Heidfeld in August.
With Raikkonen's return, it's unclear whether Petrov or Senna will return to the team in 2012. Petrov's manager told Reuters that a team meeting to discuss the matter was scheduled for Wednesday.
With Raikkonen back in the field, there will be six world champions on the starting grid in 2012, including Sebastian Vettel of Red Bull, who has won the title the last two years; Jenson Button and Lewis Hamilton of McLaren Mercedes; Fernando Alonso of Ferrari and Mercedes GP's Michael Schumacher, the seven-time champion who himself came out of retirement two years ago.
-- Jim Peltz
Photo: Kimi Raikkonen celebrates after winning the Belgian Grand Prix on Aug. 30, 2009. Credit: Mark Thompson / Getty Images